The end game of the Syrian war against ISIS would always be held in Raqqa. This was known as soon as ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi named it as their capital and logistical center. Mosul may have been the religious midpoint of the caliphate of ISIS, but Raqqa was where everyone went to and received their battle plans.
So with the news today that the Syrian Democratic Forces, which groups all militia backed by the US, is in their final stages of recapturing the city, it is quite clear that the end game has indeed arrived for ISIS.
<blockquote class="twitter-video" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/YJ%C5%9E?src=hash">#YJŞ</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/YPJ?src=hash">#YPJ</a> flags in the centre of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Raqqa?src=hash">#Raqqa</a>. IS enslaved and killed thousands of Yazidi women, now these women are avenging. <a href="https://t.co/Ybr60ZFZYh">pic.twitter.com/Ybr60ZFZYh</a></p>— Aylina Kılıç (@AylinaKilic) <a href="https://twitter.com/AylinaKilic/status/908027206009589760">September 13, 2017</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
In the video you will see the YPJ, the all women part of the Kurdish Militia celebrating the capture of their assigned part of Raqqa.
The SDF Statement said that a front had been opened in the north of the city or "a feature of the final stages of the Euphrates Wrath campaign, which is nearing its end. We can say that 80 percent of the city of Raqqa has been liberated.”
Meanwhile, the Syrian army, which is backed by Russian and Syrian warplanes is making wide advances along the western riverbank.
The NGO’s in the area who are helping with the relief of those wounded confirm these numbers
In other words, ISIS is being closed in from both fronts and now has no escape anymore.
This is a time for celebration but of course also for questions. Because with an organized press agency and the ability to strike in European capitals and send out messages encrypted on sites like Telegram, we must admit that this is not an enemy unable to see into the future.
What I mean to say is ISIS must have seen this coming and therefore it is safe to assume that some of their fighters have left before the final stage already.
Now it well becomes quite important for European and US intelligence services to know where these people are going, and in the mess of war, this might become quite difficult.
Second afterthought, what will now happen to the territory that the Kurds have won?
And does the Syrian regime immediately take back its old place again?
90% of Raqqa is great news indeed. But it also means that it is time to pose the hard follow-up questions now.